Fan website coming for Rays stadium suggestions

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays fans are going to have a voice regarding things they want to see in a new stadium.

Their say will be enabled through a website where ideas can be submitted for consideration. Once the site rolls out, any and all suggestions will be welcome.

"We want to tell everybody at some point about what we're trying to do, how we're thinking about it, get suggestions from everyone, that's the gist of it," said Brian Auld, Rays president. "And we're also going around to various business associations and sitting down with them for hours at a time and kind of doing these collective brainstorming sessions, the main purpose being to try to build something that's as collaborative and useful to everyone as possible."

Auld dropped a teaser about the coming website and its intent at a recent Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon, but the date that the site will be available for use has not yet been determined.

"I just wanted to get everyone understanding that we weren't just talking about building a ballpark, necessarily," Auld said, "but changing the way ballparks are built and building something that is ultimately available to the community 365 days a year."

Among some of the concepts the Rays are mulling are using the stadium kitchens for culinary training, and the training facilities within might serve as a community wellness center. How about having the outfield walls removed during the offseason to open the field up as a public park?

Other out-of-the-box ideas might include being able to facilitate fan movement from one set of seats for a certain number of innings to another set for other innings. Perhaps there could even be a new configuration for the seating arrangements rather than the classic row-by-row that exists in virtually all stadiums.

The St. Petersburg City Council granted the Rays permission to look for a new ballpark site in December. They are under contract with the City of St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field through 2027.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.